Characterization of reactive and non reactive trace gas fluxes in and above soil
- Nitrogen is one of the most important compounds on earth. All organisms need nitrogen to live and grow. Even the majority (78.08%) of the atmosphere (and so the air we breathe) is dinitrogen. Over the last century, human activities have dramatically increased emissions and removal of nitrogen to the global atmosphere by as much as three to five fold. Nitrous oxide is the fourth largest single contributor to positive radiative forcing, and serves as the only long-lived atmospheric tracer of human perturbations of the global nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen oxides belong to the so called indirect greenhouse gases. These indirect greenhouse gases control the abundances of direct greenhouse gases through atmospheric chemistry and contribute on this way to the greenhouse effect. For a better understanding of these feedback mechanisms it is necessary to know the source strength of nitric oxide and nitrous oxide. Thus, the knowledge about exchange processes of nitrogen is of interest and importance for scientist and policy makers, likewise. This thesis contributes the understanding of processes in the nitrogen cycle. The thesis is addressed on nitric and nitrous oxide emissions. Nitric oxide emissions were measured on soil samples using an automated laboratory system. Nitrous oxide emissions were measured directly on the field site using a closed chamber technique. The laboratory measurements were compared with field measurements of NO (modified Bowen ratio method) at a grass land site. The field NO fluxes were always around 1.8 ng m 2 s-1 while the laboratory derived NO fluxes were between 2.1 and 5,2 ng m-2 s-1. The agreement between the two data sets is considered to be quite good. The laboratory derived NO fluxes exceeded the field NO fluxes by a factor of 1.5 to 2.5. Most studies of nitric oxide (NO) emission potentials up to now have investigated mineral soil layers only. In this thesis soil organic matter was sampled for laboratory measurements under different understory types (moss, grass, spruce, blueberries) in a humid mountainous Norway spruce forest plantation in the Fichtelgebirge (Germany). In this thesis the response of net potential NO fluxes on physical and chemical soil conditions (water content and temperature, bulk density, particle density, pH, C/N ratio, organic C, soil ammonium, soil nitrate) was determined. Net potential NO fluxes (in terms of mass of N) from soil samples taken under the different understories ranged from 1.7 - 9.8 ng m 2 s-1 (soil sampled under grass and moss cover), 55.4 - 59.3 ng m-2 s-1 (soil sampled under spruce cover), and 43.7 - 114.6 ng m 2 s-1 (soil sampled under blueberry cover) at optimum water content and a soil temperature of 10°C. Effects of soil physical and chemical characteristics on the net potential NO flux were statistically significant (0.01 probability level) only for NH4+. Therefore, as an alternative explanation for the differences in soil biogenic NO emission we consider more biological factors like understory vegetation type, amount of roots, and degree of mycorrhization; they provide a potential explanation of the observed differences of net potential NO fluxes. Also, soil nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in an unmanaged, old growth beech forest in the Hainich National Park, Germany, were measured at 15 plots over a one-year period (November 2005 to November 2006). The annual field N2O flux rate was 0.46±0.32 kg ha 1 yr 1. The N2O emissions showed a background emission pattern with two event based N2O peaks. A correlation analysis showed that the distance between plots (up to 380 m) was secondary for their flux correlations. Annual N2O fluxes obtained from a standard model (Forest-DNDC) parameterized with soil parameters as well as daily temperature and precipitation substantially overestimated the actual field N2O fluxes and also did not describe their actual temporal and spatial variabilities. Temporal variability was described well by the model only at plots with higher soil organic carbon and the modelled N2O fluxes increased during freezing periods only were soil organic carbon was larger than 0.06 kg-1 C kg. The results indicate that the natural background of nitrous oxide emissions may be lower than previously thought and also lower than assumed in standard modelling. This suggests a higher anthropogenic contribution to N2O emissions.